Bongani Kona reviews The Blacks of Cape Town –

Straddling two continents, America and Africa, and shifting between time zones, from the mid-1800’s to 2008, C.A. Davids’s ambitious first novel tells – as the provocative title suggests – the story of three generations of the Black family. Yet it is also so much more than a family history. It explores the madness of apartheid’s racial categories and how they still entangle us and how the past has been whittled down to a fairy tale-like story of saints and sinners devoid of complexity.

At the centre of the 237-page novel is Zara Black; a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Berwick in New Jersey and a third generation offspring of the Black family. Her life starts to unravel when she receives a letter from the South African government naming her late father, Bart, “among the traitors, conspirators and betrayers of their time.” The allegations spur Zara to dig into her family’s past in order to unearth the truth for herself.The Blacks of Cape Town is an astonishingly brilliant debut. Strikingly written, it piercingly illuminates South Africa’s failure to transcend apartheid’s racial categories. Read the full review here.

This review first appeared on and was made available courtesy of AERODROME. The publication of The Blacks of Cape Town was supported by the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and was published by Modjaji Books.